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Nacho cheese SAUCE or melted cheese? (inspired by Nacho Toppings thread)

This will either spawn a heated debate, or a dead thread...

Which do you prefer on your nachos, cheese sauce (Velveeta or maybe Queso Blanco) or melted cheese (like a Cheddar/Jack blend)?

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  1. If it's simple nachos, I just use shredded sharp Cheddar.

    If I'm going fancy, I do both - e.g., a green chile-Jack cheese sauce and shredded Jack (or Colby-Jack, or Cheddar) cheese. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ty...

    1. If I had to pick only one, cheese sauce. If I could make my ultimate nachos, sauce on first and then some shredded cheese to melt on top to add stretch and chew.

      But I am not a fan of just melted cheese by itself on my nachos. I've had too many nacho creations where one chip lifts all the cheese off the rest of the plate.

      1 Reply
      1. re: seamunky

        Yes to orangie sauce AND melted cheese

      2. Funny you started this thread. I made nachos last night that, while perfectly good, left me a bit underwhelmed. And I think the "problem" was that I used grated extra sharp cheddar. It seems to me that this form of cheese just tends to cook away and dry up in the oven. Next time I'm making a cheese sauce.

        Anybody got any tips for confecting the perfect cheese sauce for nachos?

        10 Replies
        1. re: Perilagu Khan

          We use extra sharp cheddar for almost everything in my house, salads, tacos, you name it. But it doesn't melt well. I like to mix it with Jack cheese for nachos.

          A lot of people all around the interwebs swear by this sauce, but I haven't tried it yet:

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            I haven't tried this recipe, but I thought it looked intriguing when it was first posted: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

            1. re: calmossimo

              Sounds most excellent. I'll give it a whirl.

              1. re: calmossimo

                Fun link. It led me to SE's taste test of cheese sauces: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/05/ta...

                Serious Eats gives nacho sauce it's due! :)

                1. re: calmossimo

                  I tried this last night and it worked very well. Subbed salsa for hot sauce and poured the sauce over some pork tamales. Pretty righteous. I think next time, though, I'll reduce the cornstarch a bit. The texture was a tad grainy.

                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Thanks for reminding me of this recipe! I've had 3 fails with a béchamel base, aiming for the white queso dip served at restaurants. I've just given up and been buying the stuff at Costco.

                    I'm going to try this tomorrow!

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      I recommend you time it so that you use it immediately after preparation. As it sits, it loses something.

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        If you can find the sodium citrate, this queso dip is amazing...


                        I usually use the same weight of beer to cheese (to make it a little thinner) and add a little cumin and Mexican oregano. The beer shouldn't be hoppy or bitter, you could also use milk or water as the liquid instead of beer.

                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                    I like a canned enchilada verde sauce with velveeta melted in it. I'm classy like that.

                  3. Melted cheese. In my little world, cheese sauce is for dipping. If I must, I'll pour it over chips (and nothing but chips, no peppers or other add-ins), but that results in some floppy chips in the bottom of the bowl. So let's just stick with melted cheese over nachos, with FRESH diced jalapeños, pico, lettuce, black beans, cilantro and... nope, that's it. I'm good. :)

                    But I do love scooping up queso blanco with chips. Yum!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: DuffyH

                      What's queso blanco? I know it means white cheese, but it's being used (it seems like anyway) here to describe a sauce. I think of Mexican white cheese, queso fresco or queso cotija.

                      BTW, I like nachos both ways, but lean toward shredded or crumbled cheese, not a sauce.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        Queso blanco is a white melting cheese found at Mexican grocery stores.

                    2. I am shocked that the answers so far include only fake cheese and cheddar - neither of which could be remotely Mexican.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: sandylc

                        Well, nachos are not, strictly speaking, Mexican. They are border food and as much Tex-Mex--which makes liberal use of cheddar and American cheese--as Mexican.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          They were invented in Mexico. I don't have a problem with Tex-Mex and I even (reluctantly) accept that cheddar is used liberally in it.....

                          I was just expecting to see some Monterey Jack going on here...

                          1. re: sandylc

                            +1 to Monterey Jack. I use it in combo with cheddar. I like it's melting properties, but enjoy the added flavor of cheddar.

                            Mostly I've found that if cheddar is applied too heavily, or the nachos are stuck under the broiler for too long, that's when it gets greasy and clumpy. I've had really good luck using straight extra sharp by pre-heating my Breville while I'm heating the beans, shredding, etc... then sticking the completed dish under the broiler for about 1 minute, just enough to begin melting the cheese. Practically perfect, like Mary P. :)

                            1. re: sandylc

                              Yes, Piedras Negras, right across the river from Texas. They were almost instantaneously adapted to Tex-Mex and may well be more popular in Texas than Mexico. And do we really know what cheese was used on the first plate of nachos? Wouldn't shock me if it was cheddar. Presumably, cheddar is not entirely foreign to Mexico.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                I've only seen nachos in Mexico along the border. This article suggest inventor Nacho Ayala used yellow Wisconsin cheese.


                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Anaya's relatives remember yellow cheese:
                                  "My father was maitre d' and he said `Let me go quick and fix something for you.' He went into the kitchen, picked up tostados, grated some cheese on them -- Wisconsin cheese, the round one -- and put them under the salamander (a broiler that quickly browns foods). He pulled them out after a couple minutes, all melted, and put on a slice of jalapeno."

                                2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  I remember something like nachos when visiting my mom's family in south Texas. After a day at the beach (South Padre Island) we ate at nice Mexican restaurant. An appetizer consisted of fried tortilla pieces (probably triangular) baked or broiled with cheese and pepper strips. I dont recall if there were beans or not, nor do I recall the name. This was in the 1960s.

                                  Latter in the 80s I spent a month in Piedras Negras. I remember locally made corn tortillas, home made flour tortillas, and Sunday barbacoa. Also my first taste of pico de gallo (the coarse fresh salsa version). But no nachos.

                          2. Melted cheese!

                            I regard Velveeta as a form of plastic, not cheese, plus, it makes the nachos soggy and gross.

                            I usually use grated medium or sharp cheddar, layered between the chips as well as on top, and keeping a close eye on it so I remove it when the cheese is melted but just starting to brown.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              I agree with you under most circumstances, but have been won over by that peculiar Texas addiction, chile con queso, which is properly made from melted Velveeta and Ro-Tel. In the absence of that, yes, melted cheese is both better and much less messy than those goopy, synthetically-thickened "quesos" in cans from Tostitos or anyone. It's funny, but it was my first real Latino acquaintance who introduced me and some other friends to nachos along around 1971, which he made by spreading a layer of corn chips onto a cookie sheet and laboriously placing a sliver of cheese and a slice of pickled jalapeño on each one, then putting that in the oven. If we hadn't insisted on helping we never would have had our fill of them. The next ones I had were at a "Mexican" chain place in Nashville, and the chips had been dumped in a pile, jalapeño slices scattered willy-nilly, and "cheese" goo poured over all. Of course our two-year-old loved this. We regretted not being able to hose him off before the ride home.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Will, look out.....

                                You have pinged one of my pet peeves. This might not be pretty.

                                corn chips = Fritos

                                Are you meaning to say tortilla chips? ;-)

                                1. re: sandylc

                                  Tortilla chips at that time were not a common item of commerce - Fritos were about all you could get from a grocery store. Nate may very well have gotten a sack of tortilla chips from a restaurant, I don't remember - it was almost 45 years ago, after all. And back then nobody talked about tortilla chips. If they were made from corn, they were corn chips - like corn flakes, corn bread, corn tortillas … we got all precise about it later.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    That's an interesting bit of food history. Come to think of it, even down here in Texas, I don't remember much about store-bought tortilla chips until Tostitos came along in the early 80s. The only place you could get 'em was at Mexican restaurants.

                                    I suspect the proliferation of tortilla chips correlated very strongly with the rise of the salsa industry, paced by Pace, of course.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      We were living in Oklahoma (various outlying communities around Tulsa) around that time and that's when I remember Tostitio's being the first store available tortilla chips also.

                            2. As a kid nachos were Tostitos white corn original chips with Monterrey jack melted over in the toaster oven or microwave then dipped in salsa ( I forget he brand mom uses to use). I prefer a cheese sauce and it never occurred to me to make a cheese sauce for homemade nachos. Usually I do a dip at home. I like the white queso which tastes like the cheese sauce was made with Land I Lakes white American cheese.

                              1. Sauce, all the way. I'm not really a fan of corn chips, but I'll make a nacho-like dish with fries. The recipe mentioned above here on chow is great, the sodium citrate makes all the difference. And I was lucky enough to try it the day I read it---one of the joys of being married to a chemist :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: alliegator

                                  When you say corn chips, are you talking about Fritos?

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    No, that came out wrong, haha! Tortilla chips--the normal nachos kind. I have an unpleasant getting sick memory involving them :/

                                2. sauce is a dip, nachos must have a cheese blend to ensure proper melting!

                                  1. Ok. I don't eat nachos often, but the last time I ate them, it was with Velveeta Cheese sauce, and boy, was it yummy.

                                    1. I have only eaten velveeta cheese once in my life and my Mom was right, it's not even close to melted cheese. And I do not mean bagged shredded cheese either, because it does not melt the same as block cheese that has been shredded. I love chili cheese fries and if I am going to indulge, I usually have them for a cheat meal. I therefore, consider myself somewhat of a melty cheese snob. I definitely recommend variety, go for mozzarella and some brie and maybe some feta and some cheddar. Not a lot of the more pungent like feta and brie, but just enough to carry the notes of each.